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Chasing Gold: The Incredible Story of How the Nazis Stole Europe's Bullion

Chasing Gold: The Incredible Story of How the Nazis Stole Europe's Bullion

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by George M. Taber

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From the bestselling author of Judgment of Paris comes the story of the integral role that gold played in World War II, from its influence on the Nazi war machine to the ultimate triumph by the Allies and the fall of Berlin.


A USA Today "New and Notable" Book

For the entire history of human civilization, gold


From the bestselling author of Judgment of Paris comes the story of the integral role that gold played in World War II, from its influence on the Nazi war machine to the ultimate triumph by the Allies and the fall of Berlin.


A USA Today "New and Notable" Book

For the entire history of human civilization, gold has enraptured people around the globe. The Nazis was no less enthralled by it, and felt that gold was the solution to funding Hitler's war machine. Gold was also on the mind of FDR across the Atlantic, as he worked with Europe's other leaders to bring the United States and the rest of the world out of a severe depression. FDR was hardly the first head of state to turn to gold in difficult times. Throughout history, it has been the refuge of both nations and people in trouble, working at times when nothing else does. Desperate people can buy a loaf of bread or bribe a border guard. Gold can get desperate nations oil to keep tanks running or munitions to fight a war. If the price is right, there is always someone somewhere willing to buy or sell gold. And it was to become the Nazi's most important medium of exchange during the war.

Chasing Gold is the story of how the Nazis attempted to grab Europe’s gold to finance history’s bloodiest war. It is filled with high drama and close escapes, laying bare the palate of human emotions. Walking through the tale are giants of world history, as well as ordinary people called upon to undertake heroic action in an extraordinary time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Former Time magazine staffer Taber (Judgment of Paris) reveals one of WWII’s darkest secrets in this compulsively readable, real-life thriller of how the Nazis funded their war machine. Taber’s meticulous research dates back to a 1966 Time assignment to locate where Belgium’s $204.9 million worth of bank gold ended up during WWII. After opening with a listing of key international players, Taber recounts the surprising 1945 discovery by General Patton’s men of “Room #8,” an underground vault in central Germany crammed with about $9 billion in looted gold and artwork. To achieve self-sufficiency—autarkie—and accomplish Hitler’s objectives of domination required more financing than the Reichsbank could bankroll: after seizing $136 million in bullion from Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Germans had the funds to invade Poland and beyond. Each chapter focuses on a different European country; what emerges is how supposedly “neutral” parties such as Switzerland and Sweden laundered stolen gold. Taber tracks down the pilfered Belgian bullion that originally piqued his interest, yet the trail eventually grows cold, and he acknowledges that some gold remains missing. Those with an interest in war crimes will relish Taber’s masterful reportage and the unearthing of these wartime treasures. Maps and photos. (Dec.)
“An absorbing examination of an important and rarely covered episode in WWII.”
The Huffington Post
“A meticulously researched and tensely dramatic account of the movements of gold just before and during the conflict — a story full of ruthless plunder, desperate maneuvers and narrow escapes.”
Shelf Awareness
“Rarely can a story about central bankers, bullion holdings and maritime shipping be described as thrilling. Nazis, of course, tend to liven things up. But outrunning the Nazis was only the first obstacle. Chasing Gold glitters with an engaging narrative.”
Midwest Book Review
“Eye-opening. Chasing Gold almost reads like a thriller at times, packed with true stories of greed, murder, political intrigue, and corrupt money laundering that persisted well past the war's end. Highly recommended.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A vivid, robust story.”
“There is a big payoff in Taber's research, and especially his felicitous writing style”
“A sprightly and definitive account.”
Eric Asimov - The New York Times
Robert Mark Kamen
“In All the President's Men, Deep Throat tells Woodward and Bernstein to "follow the money." George Taber took his advice and, in Chasing Gold, he leads us on a journey never undertaken before to uncover how the Nazi Wehmacht financed the death and destruction they wrecked upon the world for six terror filled years. Chasing Gold should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of World War Two.”
Library Journal
If a crazed ideology motivated the Nazis in their drive for European hegemony, gold was the instrument that Hitler needed to make his dreams a reality. Independent scholar Taber (In Search of Bacchus) provides a detailed account of the German economists—some committed Nazis, and others merely technocrats—who helped Hitler obtain the reserves he needed in his ambition for "autarky" (economic self-sufficiency). Taber also analyzes what happened to the currency during the war. For example, in the summer of 1940, French warships transferred the nation's gold to Casablanca, and from there to Canada and then on to its final destination in a neutral United States. The author examines the policies of then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt as he moved U.S. procedure from New Deal to belligerency. Special attention is given to the discovery and restoration of gold and other currency hidden by the Nazis near the end of the war. VERDICT Taber's title, while not revolutionary in its interpretation, relates the account of World War II from the perspective of gold, something that will attract a variety of readers. However, the author's prose is periodically bogged down under the weight of the details, so that casual readers may lose interest.—Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll.
Kirkus Reviews
The story of the Nazis' international bank robberies.After World War I, Germany was subject to huge reparations to the Allied victors. High unemployment, inflation and fierce anger over the nation's defeat generated political and social strife that fueled Hitler's rise to power. As former Time editor and reporter Taber (In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism, 2009, etc.) shows in this crisp, well-documented history, lust for gold was integral to Hitler's military ambitions. In 1933, the Germans had six army divisions, a skeleton air force and only one heavy naval cruiser; by 1939, after raiding Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Nazis had built up their military might to 51 army divisions, including four tank units with 6,000 tanks; 21 air squadrons and 7,000 planes; four battleships, 22 destroyers and four submarines. The nation had also trained and equipped 1.25 million soldiers. Before the invasion of Austria in March 1938, Germany had about $149 million in gold, most in hidden assets. By the end of the war, the Nazis' stores totaled almost $600 million. Once Hitler's rampage began, European nations rushed to safeguard their gold stores by sending bullion abroad, much of it to the United States. By early 1940, the U.S. harbored more than 60 percent of the world's gold. Taber recounts the tense, often frenetic process of secreting these hordes on trains, trucks and boats, sometimes only yards away from the invading Nazis. Some countries, like Norway, succeeded in saving their gold; most did not. Taber emphasizes that "the German war machine would have ground to a halt long before May 1945" without cooperation from Romania, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Sweden for materiel, and especially from Swiss bankers, who eagerly sold the Nazis Swiss francs with which to pay for vital war products. A chilling tale vividly told.

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Meet the Author

George M. Taber is the author of the bestselling Judgment of Paris, which recounts the story of the famous 1976 event when unknown California wines defeated top French ones. Taber's second book, To Cork or Not to Cork, won the Jane Grigson Award and was a finalist for the James Beard Award. Before turning to writing books, Taber was a reporter and editor with TIME magazine for twenty-one years, based in Bonn, Paris, Houston, and New York.

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Chasing Gold: The Incredible Story of How the Nazis Stole Europe's Bullion 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
YogiAriz More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for my husband. He is getting a lot out of it, learning many things, and highly recommends it.